Carole Nash
Content Writer
Published: 6th November 2018

During the Soviet era, car manufacturing was carried out on a large scale. Poland had its fair share of Soviet built cars and so did Ukraine. The best selling car in Ukraine was the ZAZ Zaporozhets. Built in 1958, the car became well known in other Soviet countries. Like the Volkswagen Beetle, the Zaporozhets became a people’s car and was one of the most affordable cars of the era. We’re looking into the history of the motor.


The first Zaporozhets was introduced in 1960 as a way to capitalise on the growing city car trend. The prototype, the Moskvich-444, was designed in 1957 and improved upon. The first version of the Zaporozhets featured a V4 air-cooled, rear-mounted engine, rounded bodywork and suicide doors.

The layout was designed to be accessible, with the suicide doors providing easy entry. The sturdiness of the Mark I made for a durable vehicle. Overall, the Mark I was a practical car that inspired different variations. The car was extremely popular because of its cheapness and practicality. It became known as ‘the car for pensioners and intellectuals.’

Upgraded versions

The second version, named the 966, came out in 1966 and it featured improved styling that took inspiration from the Chevrolet Corvair and NSU Prinz. Previous features like the suicide doors were removed and a new MeMZ 968A engine was added. A noticeable feature was the air intakes or ‘ears’ as they were called. The 966 became popular throughout Western Europe and earned the nickname ‘Zapo.’

In 1979, the third Zaporozhets came out. The Mark III had a modern design with a 968BE engine. The fake grille from previous models was replaced with a chrome bar. The interior was upgraded as well, coming with a closed-space glove box and modern dashboard.

It’s not hard to see why the Zaporozhets was successful. It combined practicality, affordability and reliability together.


Image credit: